Visual Explanations


(Above: A graphical of history of rock 'n roll from the third of four classic design texts by Edward Tufte.)

Recently, Edward Tufte visited Portland to deliver his highly acclaimed one-day course: Presenting Data and Information. Reading the news coverage of this event brought me back 14 years to a meeting room at the Grand Hyatt in San Francisco. The World-Wide Web was just a few years old, and Tufte had just released his third book, Visual Explanations. I still have my notes from that class-- they are full of useful tips for presentation design and delivery.

Free Workshop

Reflecting on what I've learned in the years since, I recognize Tufte’s influence on my approach to everyday communications. Visual explanations are fast, direct, and easy to understand. However, most people still rely on verbal descriptions. Fat Pencil Studio is aiming to change this. We’ve developed a workshop to introduce image resources and free/inexpensive tools that make it easy to capture and mark up on-screen images. Once you know where to source images, and have a little practice making annotations, you'll find it easy to create simple diagrams that add clarity to your email, reports, and presentations. For the rest of 2011, we are offering the Visual Explanations workshop free of charge to any group of 10+ friends, coworkers, or classmates. Give us a call if you'd like to get on the calendar. This snapshot from Google Earth allows bicycle riders to understand where event parking areas are located in relation to surrounding context:


Google Street View is an excellent source for information about the built environment. This annotated image was used during development of digital model for a court case:


Fat Pencil Studio is a visual presentation company.